Researchers from University College London (UCL) estimate that the use of electronic cigarettes produced 16,000-22,000 additional long-term quitters in England in 2014, according to an Eurekalert story. A long-term quitter is someone who has not smoked for at least a year.
The UCL team, whose study was published in the journal Addiction, has been tracking the rise in the use of electronic cigarettes using monthly national surveys, and estimates that in 2014 about 891,000 smokers used one of these products to try to quit.
Professor Robert West, who led the research team, was quoted as saying that electronic cigarettes appeared to be helping a significant number of smokers to stop who would not have done otherwise – not as many as some electronic cigarette enthusiasts claimed, but a substantial number nonetheless.
“There have been claims by some public health researchers that e-cigarettes undermine quitting if smokers use them just to cut down, and that they act as a gateway into smoking,” said West.
“These claims stem from a misunderstanding of what the evidence can tell us at this stage, but this is clearly something we need to watch carefully.”
Meanwhile, a story by the ITV Network reported that the research had been welcomed by the director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, Professor Peter Hajek, who had said he hoped it might help develop new ways of supporting people through quitting.
“E-cigarettes have a potential to reduce smoking related morbidity and many smokers are successful in making the switch from smoking to vaping,” he said.
“Specialist smoking cessation services are currently not offering e-cigarettes and are seeing a marked decline in interest. This is unfortunate, as it is likely that even more smokers would switch to vaping successfully if e-cigarettes were combined with behavioral support that the services provide.
“Hopefully, findings like this will encourage the services to start offering e-cigarettes as a part of their overall toolkit.”